How the Candidates Would Tax You

On Tax Day, Trump plans steep cuts, Bernie and Hillary — massive hikes 

If you waited until the deadline Monday to pay your federal income taxes, chances are it’s because you are not getting a refund from Uncle Sam. If so, it’s worth considering how your tax burden might change after the November election.

Assessing the macro impact of a candidate’s tax proposal is hard enough. Pinpointing the effect on individual taxpayers is nearly impossible. That’s because there are so many factors to account for and so many deductions and exemptions that make everybody’s tax bite different.

Analysts on the Left and the Right who have studied the proposals of the four major candidates agree on the broad outlines: If Republican Donald Trump’s plan became law, taxpayers at all income levels would pay less, often substantially less. Meanwhile, nearly everyone would pay more — a lot more — under the plan offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton have offered proposals in between, with Cruz’s calling for tax cuts that are not as generous for the middle class as Trump’s and Clinton pitching large tax increases weighted toward people at the upper end of the income scale.

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Vox, working with the liberal-leaning Tax Policy Center, developed a calculator giving taxpayers a ballpark estimate of how their tax bill would change under the four plans. Gov. John Kasich was not included because he has not provided enough details for economists to forecast the impact.

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Under this estimate, a single person earning $50,000 a year would pay more than $3,600 less under Trump and almost $2,700 less under Cruz’s plan for a 10 percent flat tax and a 16 percent Value Added Tax. Under Clinton, the taxpayer would pay an additional $60 under Clinton and $5,430 under Sanders.

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The Democrats and Republicans diverge more sharply for higher-income earners. Trump’s plan would save a married couple with one child and a household income of $300,000 a yearly total of $23,530. Under Cruz, that family would pocket even more cash — $30,590. Meanwhile, the Clinton tax plan would cost that same family an additional $2,010. But the family would be hit hardest by Sanders, paying a whopping $32,230 more.

Sanders has defended his big tax hikes, including even those on low-income earners, by arguing that expanded government entitlements — such as nationalized health care and tuition-free public college — would save most taxpayers overall.

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For the Republicans, meanwhile, analysts pointed to trade-offs. The conservative-leaning Tax Foundation, for instance, concludes that taxpayers overall would keep more of their money under Trump than Cruz. But the think tank concludes that Cruz would grow the economy faster — 13.9 percent higher gross domestic product rate over 10 years vs. 11.5 percent under Trump — and boost wages faster — 12.2 percent over a decades vs. 6.5 percent under Trump.

“So you kind of have one that gives a little bit more on the tax side, but doesn’t boost growth as much, and then you have another that doesn’t give you as much of a tax cut but is a much bigger impact on the economy,” Tax Foundation President Scott Hodge told Fox News earlier this month. “So, it’s kind of a trade-off.”

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